I’ve been hemming and hawing over whether I wanted to write a review of Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World here, and ultimately I decided to publish it on my blog instead. But the process has made me think more about where YA literature and “adult” literature do and don’t cross over.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about adults reading YA, but what about the reverse? In my YA lit class we discussed the importance of putting copies of popular adult titles in the YA/teen section. I can remember from my not-so-distant teen years that it took me a long time to venture into the adult titles, although now I realize that more than a few were shelved among my beloved YA titles. (While my fourteen year old self, for instance, was immensely grateful to find an Anita Blake mystery in the YA section, my twenty-four year old self doesn’t really consider that a YA title.)

So what makes an adult title fit for shelving in the YA section? I tried to pin this down in a conversation with the Sig Fig, but we didn’t really make any headway. We came up with several big-name authors read by young adults and old adults alike, but no real reasoning for why they should have such crossover popularity.

I put it to you, then, dear readers. Do you keep copies of adult fiction both in the general and YA/teen sections of your library? Are there titles classified as adult fiction that you exclusively shelve in YA? Who are the adult authors your teens can’t get enough of?

About mk Eagle

I'm the librarian at Holliston High School, a bit west of Boston. In my spare time I advise my school's yearbook and Gay Straight Alliance, write about food, and root for the Red Sox.

7 Thoughts on “Warning: Adult Content

  1. If it’s something that we have several copies already, because of popularity, and it’s something that’s been popular with the YA crowd, we do shelve some there. The Dave Pelzer books, for instance, have locations in Biography, YA Biography, and Adult NonFiction (361).

    The Anita Blake books are all in Adult Fiction (thankfully!), and another example of Adults-reading-YA, the Twilight books, are all in YA as well. I checked for The Gone-Away World, but there aren’t any copies catalogued yet.

  2. I should’ve mentioned that Gone-Away World is forthcoming–my copy doesn’t include the planned release date, but I’ll edit my post to reflect that.

  3. KellyT on August 7, 2008 at 10:08 pm said:

    One book in our system that is published adult but shelved exclusively in YA is Gregory Galloway’s As Simple As Snow, but I think that was should have been published YA in the first place. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer and Always Running by Luis Rodriguez are almost exclusively shelved in YA as well.

    The other thing I generally do is buy some adult paperbacks for my teen racks. They aren’t listed in the library catalog by title, but are nevertheless available for teens to check out from the teen section. I know I have some Stephen King (always popular), The Secret Life of Bees, some Jodi Picoult, Life of Pi, and some Iceberg Slim. How is that for eclectic? I’d like to add a few more urban fiction titles too.

  4. Vicki on August 8, 2008 at 1:51 am said:

    There are some books that would clearly fit well in both sections–titles like Ender’s Game, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and The Book Thief to name a few, but it’s usually a bit more fuzzy. It might be good to have an Alex Award shelf in the YA section, with maybe some additional staff picks on an adjacent shelf. You could even let YA patrons nominate and vote on adult titles they’d like to see in the YA section, which might be fun.

  5. Interesting debate! I will be curious to see where my book is shelved, as the protagonist is fifteen and some bookstores are classifying it as Teen, while others are putting it in general fiction. The publisher labeled it “fiction”, but lists it in both its YA and general fiction areas. Hmmm…
    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
    Chapter 1 is online!

  6. Don’t forget money as a factor; adult fic (and nonfic) budgets tend to be much greater than YA, so that factors into a decision. If adult already has several copies, do you spend the money on the adult title or the YA title? Yes, teens are reading it, but if it is in the library, and the money is limited, what do you buy?

    Adult titles that do wind up in YA tend to be either teen award books (Alex or another award), or books that are school reading lists, or titles that the readers have made into YA by their sheer numbers — Enders Game, for example.

  7. Sally W on August 10, 2008 at 6:45 pm said:

    Hey, what do you all think of the Chuck Palahnuik books, liked Fight Club, Haunted, Survivor? My YA boys seem to love these and they sit on adult shelves until I help the guys find them. Did you happen to read the NY Times Book Review article about the bleedover from YA to A and back again? More and more books, intended for adults, have been published as YA.

Post Navigation